Katy Regnery Bidding on Brooks 5/11/2015
“Please, Skye. Just listen. You’re the perfect person for this. You’ve got to help me out.” Skye Sorenson rolled her eyes at Brooks Winslow, adjusting the brim of her baseball cap as she swept past him and headed down the dock for her next job. “I mean it, Skye. I’m up a tree…and we’re friends. Can’t you give me a hand?” Dreamy Delight needed a new float switch and bilge pump, which would be difficult to manage with Brooks Winslow standing on the dock, looking casually gorgeous as he yammered at her about some charity event he wanted her to attend. Gazing at her hands, she noted they were still covered with engine grease from the oil change she’d just handled on the outboard motor of a J-24 sailboat. Not wanting to get black fingerprints on the white fiberglass of the motorboat she was about to service, she took a bandana out of the back pocket of her overalls then turned to face Brooks as she wiped her fingers. “Are you going to follow me around all afternoon if I don’t listen?” “Umm…pretty much.” She sighed with feigned annoyance. “Fine. You have my attention. Tell it to me again.” Brooks looked relieved and gave her a small grin that—damn it—made Skye’s stomach flutter. “Knew you wouldn’t let me down.” “Haven’t said yes to anything yet,” she said, shoving the bandana back into her pocket and crossing her arms over her chest. “My sister, Jessica, is back in Philly this summer to get married. To keep busy, she’s organized some big benefit for the Institute of Contemporary Art. She and her girlfriends thought it would be fun to volunteer their single brothers to be auctioned off.” “Auctioned off?” “Yeah…a bachelor auction.” “Some sister,” said Skye, unable to keep the teasing from her voice. “It’s for charity,” he said defensively, running a hand through his waves of jet black hair. “Okay. So you got roped into it.” She thought back to an old movie she’d seen once where women were auctioned off as dates. At each of their feet had been a pretty lunch basket, and the man that was the highest bidder won a homemade lunch with the girl of his choice. “What do you have to do? Have lunch with someone?” “Oh, no,” he said with irritation, pursing his lips. “Nothing that painless. Jess wants to make money. Big money. She had to think bigger than lunch.” Skye stared up at him. “Dinner?” “Nope.” “Two dinners?” “Nuh-uh.” She gestured to the sleek Sportscruiser moored at the end of the dock that she was supposed to be working on. “I’m out of guesses, Brooks…and that pump isn’t going to fix itself, so—” “A sail. She’s auctioning off a sail. With me.” “Well, I don’t know why you’re complaining. You love sailing. You love women. What’s the problem?” Skye tilted her head to the side, looking at Brooks’ way-too-handsome face with a cheeky grin. Long ago Skye had accepted the fact that Brooks would never see her as anything but a great mechanic, a proficient sailor, and a long-time friend. She was—honestly and truly—satisfied with that status quo between them. He was rich and powerful, an ex-Olympian and world-renowned sailor from Philadelphia, while Skye lived a much quieter life, working as a “handyman” at her dad’s marina in Maryland. What they had in common was a deep love of boats and mutual respect for one another’s nautical skills, and that was just enough to keep their friendship intact. The first time Skye had ever seen Brooks Winslow was the day he came down to her father’s marina to claim the fifteen foot Primrose wood-hulled sailboat gifted to him from his parents for his fifteenth birthday. He swaggered into Sorenson Marina, flashing his perfect smile at her, and her ten-year-old heart had grown wings as she’d discreetly followed him down the dock. She was instantly infatuated with Brooks, of course, but much more, Skye harbored a deep devotion to his Primrose, the most beautiful little double-ended Daycruiser she’d ever seen. Her stomach had been in knots as she walked behind him from a discreet distance, hopeful that he would handle the little sailboat with the grace and care she deserved. But Skye’s worries turned out to be unfounded. He’d treated that pretty boat with respect and skill, and Skye had breathed deeply with relief, whispering, “I’m gonna marry you someday,” as he sailed away. Twenty years later, Skye knew two things for certain: One, that Brooks was one of the most talented, natural, organic sailors she’d ever met in her life. Heck, he’d made it all the way to the Olympics and come home with a medal to prove what Skye had always known—that any boat was safe in his hands. She respected him more than most of the sailors she knew. And two, the chances of her ever marrying him were next to none in the approximate area of zero. He was gorgeous and rich and talented and fascinating…and completely out of her league. “Not a one-day sail,” Brooks continued in a terse voice, jettisoning her memories as he prompted her back to their conversation. “Not even two. Jessica signed me up for a cruise. From Baltimore to Charleston.” Skye felt her eyes widen as she stared at him. “That’s a week. Minimum.” “Yeah.” “Crew?” Brooks grabbed the back of his neck with his hand, rubbing. “Nope. It’s supposed to be… romantic.” A romantic cruise. For a week. Alone. With Brooks. Lucky girl, she thought, ignoring the ridiculous spike of jealousy that jabbed a little at her heart and made her feel instantly guilty. She couldn’t help her attraction to him, but the fact that it was totally unreturned made it manageable in a way that didn’t hurt. For heaven’s sake, it wasn’t like she had feelings for Brooks beyond friendship. She just liked looking at him. Her eighty-year-old granny’s heart would flutter at the sight of Brooks’ thick, dark hair, flashing sea-green eyes, square jaw, muscular body, and perennially-tan hands that handled a boat with the same finesse that he probably handled his women. Noticing Brooks’ good looks didn’t make Skye unique or special, and it didn’t mean she wanted more from him than friendship either (she tried to convince herself). It just made her human. “Romantic,” she murmured. Turning away, she looked out at the harbor where sailboats bobbed up and down in afternoon sun. “Yeah.” “But you won’t know who she is,” said Skye, “until she wins you.” “Bingo,” he said. “And then you’ll be trapped at sea for a week.” “Precisely.” “She could be anyone.” “Yep.” “Does your sister really hate you?” Brooks scoffed. “No. But she really loves modern art.” “Okay. Yeah. It’s a pretty sucky situation. But how can I help?” He grinned. “You can bid on me.”
About Katy Regnery:
USA Today Bestselling author Jessica Scott is a career army officer, mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She is a terrible cook and even worse housekeeper, but she's a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon and someone liked some of the stuff she wrote. Somehow, her children are pretty well adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house. She's also written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View Regarding War, and IAVA. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of OIF/New Dawn and has had the honor of serving as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas twice. She's pursuing a graduate degree in Sociology in her spare time and most recently, she's been featured as one of Esquire Magazine's Americans of the Year for 2012.
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